By Alex Deveiteo
January 1, 1916 – Oregon goes dry as the Anderson Act, passed by Oregon’s Legislative Assembly, takes effect, making the sale and consumption of alcohol prohibited. The act showed that Oregon was “progressive” even in the early 20th century, though perhaps in the wrong way, as the state entered the dark era of prohibition three years before the passing of the American 18th Amendment. Oregon drinkers would have a glimmer of hope the following November, but couldn’t muster enough votes to pass an amendment allowing the sale of beer. Fortunately, the ban on alcohol was struck down after a few years, and today Oregon is home to some of Cascadia’s most distinguished wineries and breweries, many of which are world-renowned.
January 2, 1919 – Tacoma Municipal streetcar service begins between downtown Tacoma and the tideflats. The city of Tacoma had built streetcar tracks to the tideflats so that workers could reach jobs in the shipyards and other industries, while Tacoma Railway & Power provided the streetcars and crews. The lack of fare collection boxes on the cars at the time meant that as many as one third of the riders rode for free.
January 3, 2009 –The Duwamish (Dkhw’Duw’Absh) First Nation celebrates the grand opening of their new Longhouse and Cultural Center (4705 West Marginal Way SW), which is situated at a traditional riverside village site. The 6,044-square-foot facility was designed by Byron Barnes of Potlatch Architects and constructed in a form reminiscent of a traditional wooden longhouse. After more than three decades of active planning and fundraising, the new Duwamish $4 million facility is a physical testament to the 570-member tribe’s ability to endure, persevere, and accomplish great things. The nearly four-hour opening ceremony itself served as a way to announce that the tribe was here to stay and to acknowledge and thank many of the friends and benefactors of the project.
January 4, 1905 – Bend, Oregon is incorporated as a city. Arguably the outdoor sports and recreation capital of Oregon, Bend was known merely as a fordable spot on the Deschutes River up until the early 1900s, but, buoyed by the success of the Pilot Butte Development Company, which first platted and sold lots, Farewell Bend, as it was known then, boasted 300 residents by 1904. In addition to the aforementioned proximity to recreation opportunities, Bend is nowadays known for its excellent collection of breweries, Californian real-estate speculators, and local eateries.
January 5, 1846 – After decades of disputes, the United States House of Representatives passes a resolution calling for an end to sharing the Oregon Territory (the British called it Columbia District) with Great Britain. For decades the British and the Americans disputed where, exactly, the borders should be drawn, with the British thinking that it should be somewhere near Northern California, whereas the Americans thought perhaps it should be near the Yukon. Arguably the US claim was strongest south of the Columbia River, but for various political and economic reasons the push was on to make the 49th parallel the border, quite a bit lower than up near the 54th parallel, where some Americans thought the line should be. The two empires compromised with the Oregon Treaty, carving Cascadia in two along the 49th parallel.
January 6, 2010 – The Ady Gil, a ship owned by the Oregon-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, is sunk during a skirmish with the Japanese Whaling Fleet’s Shōnan Maru.
January 7, 1965 – The Christmas flood of 1964 finally dissipates, though it has impacted parts of southwest Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and especially Northern California. In Oregon seventeen people are dead and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage have been caused as a result of the disaster. The flooding covered 152,789 acres (61,831.5 ha), and The National Weather Service rates the flood as the fifth most destructive weather event in Oregon in the 20th century.
January 8, 1918 – The Russian steamship Shilka, which had arrived to much surprise in Seattle a month earlier, finally leaves Elliott Bay carrying steel, pig iron, and iron products. Some 200 well-wishers lined the pier to bid farewell, and the Russians responded with three cheers for the people of the Pacific Northwest. Thus the mysterious month-long Russian invasion ended in peace and harmony.
January 9, 1880 – The Great Gale of 1880, possibly the strongest Pacific Northwest typhoon on record, devastates parts of Oregon and Washington with high wind and heavy snow, causing damage to timberland and orchard trees that will only be comparably matched by the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. According to The Daily Oregonian “Not even among the traditions of the First Nations is there record of a tempest so wild and furious in its aspect or so disastrous and terrible in its results.”
January 10, 1969 – The Old Spaghetti Factory opens on a drizzly day in Portland, Oregon. In the years since its founding, the Old Spaghetti Factory has expanded impressively, now boasting over 35 domestic locations throughout Cascadia, plus a presence in the United States and Japan.
January 11, 1999 – Clyde Ballard (Republican) and Frank Chopp (Democrat) are elected as co-Speakers of Washington’s House of Representatives. Normally the majority party elects the Speaker to preside over the session, designate the committee chairs, and select non-member employees. However, with both major parties locked in a 49-to-49 tie, both parties are forced to share power jointly. The tie in membership was not unprecedented, having occurred once before following the 1978 election where Republican House leader Duane Berentson and Democratic leader John Bagnariol, longtime colleagues with a good working relationship, devised the power sharing arrangement in which they served as co-Speakers. After being sworn in, Ballard and Chopp posed with a two-handled gavel like one that had been presented to Berentson and Bagnariol two decades earlier. The gag gavel was not the only similarity between the two tied House sessions; under rules adopted 20 year earlier, the two presided on opposite days, and shared control of committees, with co-chairs for the most important committees and the others divided between the parties. However, because control of committees was evenly divided and no bill could come to the floor unless both parties approved, few controversial measures passed and most legislation enacted in 1999 and 2000 had substantial bipartisan support, including patient rights protections and increased unemployment benefits.
January 12, 1950 – The Cirque Playhouse in Seattle begins its 31 year run of live performances. First Central Staging, under the direction of founder Gene Keene, presents “Springtime for Harry” at Broadway Hall, located on Capitol Hill at Broadway and Madison streets. The hall is remodeled with volunteer labor, and opening night is almost cancelled because of an unpaid painting bill. Soon to be renamed the Cirque (French for circus), the company would stage live musicals and comedies almost continuously until 1981, making it “the oldest and longest running professional theater in Seattle.”
January 13, 1892 – The Agricultural College, Experiment Station, and School of Science of the State of Washington opens its doors to an initial class of 59 students. The newest of the nation’s land-grant institutions, the college consists of one tiny building on a treeless, 25-acre campus near the small town of Pullman. By the end of its first century it will be recognized as one of the top public research universities in Cascadia, serving more than 20,000 students statewide, and will be known as WashingtonStateUniversity.
January 14, 1969 – Portland City Council Creates the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, better known as TriMet. As the post-war tide of freeway construction and private automobile ownership swept into Portland, Rose City Transit Company, the last remnant of a once formidable collection of area transit companies, was facing bankruptcy. TriMet was established to step in to provide bus service and other regional transit services. The Oregon Legislature, in March of that same year, would pass a bill giving municipalities the power to raise revenue and create transit districts.
January 15, 2001 – The historic cast-iron and wire glass pergola at Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle collapses when a truck strikes it around 5:45 a.m. The pergola and the nearby Tlingit totem pole (which was not damaged) are national historic landmarks. Located at 1st Avenue and Yesler Way, the pergola was designed by Seattle architect Julian Everett, and built in 1909 as a stop and “comfort station” for the Yesler and James Street Cable Car Company. The pergola and ventilation towers stood over what was called by some the “Queen Mary of the Johns”, an elaborately appointed underground restroom with white-tiled walls, terrazzo floor, brass fixtures, and marble stalls. The historic restroom was sealed over after World War II, and the pergola became part of the new Pioneer Square, which includes the Tlingit totem pole and a bronze bust of Chief Seattle by Cascadian sculptor James Wehn. U.S. Xpress Enterprises, the firm whose truck accidentally demolished the pergola, paid for most of the restoration, and the pergola reopened in August the following year.
January 16, 1974 – A small but catastrophic landslide kills nine construction crew members who had been working on a coaxial cable near Canyonville, Oregon. This marks one of the most deadly single slides of the 20th century in North America.
January 17, 1993 – At 12:40 p.m., demolition experts collapse the landmark American Smelter and Refining Company (ASARCO) smokestack, once the world’s largest, as part of a Superfund toxic cleanup of the old copper smelter in Ruston, Washington. As many as 100,000 people gather to witness the detonation that, with one push of a plunger, sets off charges that reduce the structure to rubble and dust in eight seconds. Only days after the smokestack’s demise, ASARCO would face fines from the EPA for being late with a draft plan for future site cleanup. Legal hassles would continue, and the site would eventually accommodate waste from the old ASARCO smelter in Everett, Washington. Today, the site is home to a billion-dollar condominium project called Point Ruston.
January 18, 1979 –Travel author Peter Jenkins finishes “A Walk Across America” in Florence, Oregon, after setting out six years earlier from Alfred, New York. Originally accompanied by his dog, Cooper, a half Alaskan malamute who later died in a car accident in Tennessee, Peter Jenkins spent the cross-continent trip writing a book which describes his experiences.
January 19, 2001 – After many decades, the Duwamish (Dkhw’Duw’Absh) First Nation is granted federal recognition under Bill Clinton’s administration, only to be reversed within hours of the new Bush administration assuming power. To this day, the Duwamish Tribe continues to make heroic efforts to preserve and revitalize its culture while seeking federal recognition.
January 20, 2007 – The Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park opens to the public with a community wide free celebration. Located on land formerly used by Unocal (Union Oil of California) Corporation for storing, transferring, and shipping gasoline and diesel fuels, the site required a massive toxic cleanup. Designed by the New York firm of Weiss/Manfredi and featuring a panoramic view of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountain range, the Olympic Sculpture Park inaugurates a third campus for the Seattle Art Museum and marks the culmination of more than a decade of planning.
January 21, 2011 – Portlandia, a satirical sketch comedy series set and filmed in and near Portland, Oregon debuts on the Independent Film Channel. Starring Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen, and Carrie Brownstein, lead guitarist/singer of Wild Flag, Portlandia affectionately parodies archetypes associated with Portland and the west Cascades in general. Portland mayor Sam Adams, who also appeared on the show, proclaimed the day to be Portlandia Day. The paper proclamation included a decorative bird on it, referencing a running joke in the TV series.
January 22, 1906 – The SS Valencia, an iron-hulled passenger steamer, runs aground on rocks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, killing more than 130.
January 23, 1995 – British Columbia blocks the Alcan (now Rio Tinto Alcan Inc.) Kemano power dam development, citing potential and unresolved threats to local salmon fisheries. However, Alcan had already invested $1.3 billion in the Kemano Completion Project and in 1987 had been given permission by the Canadian government to continue with the project. After two years of negotiations between Alcan and the BC government, the parties would sign a settlement agreement. Alcan would commit to spending $50 million on a cold water release facility at Kenney Dam. In addition, the government would pay Alcan $500 million for what the company had previously invested in the project.
January 24, 1917 – A streetcar makes a trial run across the Interstate Bridge between Oregon and Washington, marking the first time a trolley car had crossed the Columbia River on rails. The Interstate Bridge, which was designed by J.A.L. Waddell, who also designed Portland’s Steel and Hawthorne bridges, and was the first automobile bridge between Oregon and Washington, also included streetcar tracks and five foot sidewalks. Streetcars would continue to travel regularly between Vancouver and Portland across the Interstate Bridge until 1940.
January 25, 1856 – A coalition of First Nations attack the newly established settlement of Seattle, Washington, though they are eventually driven back by artillery fire and Marines from the sloop-of-war Decatur, anchored in Elliott Bay. Known as The Battle of Seattle, the skirmish lasted only one day, though it was a major event in the multi-year Puget Sound War.
January 26, 1700 – The Great Cascadia Earthquake takes place off the west coast of the North America at approximately 9 p.m. Around magnitude 9, the largest earthquake ever known to occur in North America, the megathrust Cascadia earthquake rocked the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which encompasses a 600 mile long swath of coast from Vancouver, BC to Northern California. During the five minute long earthquake the shores lurched 50 to 60 feet westward, reshaping the coast and possibly triggering the Bonneville Slide. The earthquake also triggered a huge tsunami, which in addition to slamming the coast, also traveled across the ocean and devastated the Pacific coast of Japan. Evidence of the event includes the oral tradition of the First Nations who lived in the earthquake area, studies of tree rings, and, most importantly for pinpointing the date, written records from Japan of the tsunami’s impact.
January 27, 1969 – The University of Washington resumes selling grapes at its food concessions in response to pressure by campus Young Republicans. Eleven days earlier, the selling of grapes was discontinued at UW due to requests from the United Mexican-American Students as part of a national boycott. The nationwide effort was led by Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers Union against table-grape growers, protesting the poor working conditions and lack of rights among Mexican American and Latino farmworkers. The national boycott lasted until 1970, when growers finally agreed to allow farm workers the right to collectively bargain.
Jan. 28, 1954 – Dick’s Drive-In opens on NE 45th Street in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. Originally started by Dick Spady and two partners, Dick’s comes to represent the quintessential 1950s, a cross between fast food (hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes) and the automobile. Dick’s Drive-In would grow slowly, with four additional locations opening around Seattle between 1955 and 1974, its owners not wishing to sacrifice quality for quantity. Today, Dick’s Drive-In has become a signature local business in Seattle.
January 29, 1967 – The “ultimate high” of the hippie era, the Mantra-Rock Dance, takes place in San Franciscoand features Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and Allen Ginsberg. The musical countercultural event was held at the Avalon Ballroom, organized by followers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) as an opportunity for its founder, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, to address a wider public. The bands agreed to appear with Prabhupada and to perform for free; the proceeds were donated to the local Hare Krishna temple. The event led to favorable media exposure for Prabhupada and his followers, and brought the Hare Krishna movement to the wider attention of the public
January 30, 1914 – Cascadian actor John Ireland is born in Vancouver, BC. A veteran actor, Ireland starred in over 200 movies and TV shows including “All the King’s Men” (1949); “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” (1957); “The Fast and the Furious” (1955); “55 Days at Peking” (1962).
January 31, 1973 – The Canadian Supreme Court in Ottawa decrees that the Nishga First Nation has no aboriginal rights over land in the Nass RiverValley, B.C., despite protests by both the government of British Columbia and the Nishga people. A land-claim settlement would not be reached until 1998.